Tram Museum

Kolkata Tram Museum

Kolkata Tram Museum

Kolkata Tram Museum “Smaranika” is housed within a vintage tram built in 1938. Interestingly, this wooden body streamlined tram is still functional. This tram has been modified at the Nonapukur Workshop with a vestibule to help visitors move from one car to another within the tram. One car is a modified cafeteria whereas the other showcases some interesting memorabilia on trams in Kolkata from the early days to the present day. The whole experience of going through an archive on trams within a tram is quite fascinating.

Inaugurated in 2014, the Kolkata Tram Museum’s present collection includes photos and write-ups of the earliest trams like Horse-Drawn tram cars, Disinfectant Trams, Flat Wagon Trams, Omni Bus, Watering Tram cars and more. Other exhibits include Old Tram Tickets, Tram Passes, pens used by tram conductors, coins, armlets, Coin Exchanger Machine, conductor caps and various tram parts like Pull-Off Springs, Governor Switch and more.

Displays of newspaper cuttings and pamphlets of various festivals around the world celebrating tram journeys and posters glorifying trams of Kolkata in literature are on display too. Overall, the whole exhibition is very interesting and gives a brief idea of the history of nearly 150 years of Kolkata’s very own trams. After all this, if you want to sip a cup of hot coffee and watch a documentary on Kolkata’s trams then take a seat in the cafeteria and spend a few quiet moments.


Location of Kolkata Tram Museum

Sidhu Kanhu Dahar beside the CTC terminus


History of trams in Kolkata

Kolkata rose to the rattling sound of trams for the first time on 24 February 1873 and since then trams have been an integral part of Kolkata’s history. The first Tram was a Horse-drawn carriage tram which ran on 3.9 kms track from Sealdah to Armenian Ghat. However, it took another 07 years to form CTC (Calcutta Tram Company) in London and subsequently more funds were pushed by investors to introduce Mechanised Trams in Kolkata in the coming years.

The first mechanised trams ran on steam engines and it was introduced in 1882. Trams soon became the major mode of transport in Kolkata and a very profitable venture by the British Government. Further modernisation was done in 1900 with the introduction of Electric Powered trams. The tram network increased and connected parts of Howrah to Kolkata over the Howrah Bridge. In 1952, the total track length was 68 kms. covering parts of Howrah and Kolkata.

Nevertheless, in the 1970’s and 80’s much overhauling was done to the network – some of the routes were closed and some were added. New tram routes were added from Manicktala to Ultadanga and Behala to Joka whereas routes from Esplanade to Lalbazar and Bowbazar to Sealdah were discontinued. The re-structuring of the Kolkata’s tram network continued throughout the 1990’s.

The increasing maintenance costs of trams and lack of funds on part of CTC during the 1980’s brought Kolkata’s tram network to the brink of total shutdown. However, a World Bank Loan in 1982 helped CTC to introduce 80 steel-body trams which are presently the major part of CTC’s fleet of trams. In 2008, Polycarbonate sheet fixed trams were introduced and in 2013 air-conditioned trams were introduced in Kolkata.

Presently, Kolkata is the only city in India where trams run commercially and the tram museum “Smaranika” has archived the memories of this century-old legacy in its exhibits.


Trivia of Kolkata Tram Museum

  • The first trams of Kolkata were Horse drawn trams running over meter-gauge tram tracks between Sealdah and Armenian Ghat via Bowbazar Street, Dalhousie Square and Strand Road.
  • In India, trams were introduced by the British in Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai along with Kolkata but presently, Kolkata is the only city where trams are plying commercially.
  • At present, there are tram services in more than 300 cities and towns in about 50 countries across 06 continents over the world.
  • Trams are also known as Streetcars or Light Rail Transit in many parts of the world.
  • A Double Bogie wooden tram car of the year 1931 was renovated in 2013 for the shooting of the Bollywood flick “Byomkesh Bakshi.”
  • Earlier trams had two classes – first class and second class but it has shed this last resemblance of colonial identity from 15 Aug 2013 – now trams have no classes.